Friday, February 25, 2011


I was looking over Sword & Magic: Adventures on Fomalhaut and I saw the appendix of "Recommended Media". The very last thing listed is "Zardoz". What is this Zardoz? I asked myself. I had seen the crazy picture of Sean Connery - one of my players even uses it as his avatar on our forums - but I never really knew what it was. So, I downloaded it and made my wife watch it with me. She was quite busy playing Bejeweled Blitz on her laptop in the kitchen, so I had to remind her that her presence was requested in the living room like six or seven times before she finally joined me.

I won't bother trying to summarize it, as you can find that sort of thing elsewhere easily here or here or even here. All I will say is that we had a good time watching it. We sort of got into a little bit of MST3K-style commentary a few times, but mostly just sat in shock wondering what kind of weird shit was going to happen next.

Verdict: 3-1/2 Bandoliers

Watch this movie if: You like small 70's boobies, sci-fi movies extremely light on the sci part, or riding on horses and catching women in nets sounds like good sport to you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

LotFP Spell Contest Results

Earlier in the week, Mr. Raggi announced a most excellent contest in order to get a new 1st-level magic-user spell to fill out the spell list in his upcoming LotFP: Grindhouse Edition Boxed Set. I submitted two entries, and didn't win, but they are included in the free PDF he posted of all the submissions. Here is the announcement of the winner, which includes the downloadable PDF. Congratulations to Daniel on producing a most excellent spell!

The two entries I take credit for are Incontinence and Transphonia. I thought them to be unique, clever, well-balanced, and more useful in a tavern than in a battle, which is how I prefer my spells. However, two other submissions - Finger of Flatulence and Voice Swap - were very similar to mine. Nonetheless, it was a good exercise and I'm glad I participated.

I particularly liked Visible Man, as I was just giving some thought to how to give a fighter a taunt effect, similar to that in the video game which stole a few years of my life, but without making it obvious I was using ideas from a video game, and this seems to fit the bill perfectly.

Elves of Outland

None of my players in any of the several games I've run over the past year have ever chosen an elf. I suspect it has to do with their stereotypical tolkienesque presentation. I can't speak for them, but for me, the generic presentation of the elf has become quite stale. In order to make the players give the elf another look, I decided to try to breathe some new life into it for my Outland OD&D game. Another side-goal was to try to make humans more appealing, so I've stripped the elves of their magic, making the Magic-User a human-only option. If no one selects a magic-user, so much the better. That would only contribute to the grittier feel I'm going for in Outland. Without further ado, I present the Outland Elf.

Elf by Brynn Metheney
The Elves are savage tribal warriors of the blasted Northern wastelands. They usually range from about 6'2" to 6'8" tall and weigh between 190 and 240 lbs. They are nomadic hunters that have found a way to make a living in a harsh land where life is sparse and fleeting. They wear simple loincloths, and favor the spear and the longbow, as they can easily craft all of these from the inedible parts of their prey. They have developed a resistance to the scorching sun, and can go days without water when necessary. The various tribes are at constant war with each other, competing for the scant resources offered by the land they inhabit. The only time the tribes interact in a nonviolent way is during the first week in spring, when they meet at a sacred, neutral site and trade the females that have come of breeding age in the previous year. This is done only to prevent inbreeding. This also results in all elven children being born in the dead of winter, and those too weak to survive the conditions are forsaken and left as a meal to the wild beasts of the wastelands. Elven endurance is unmatched, and they can run for great distances in the unbearable heat and frigid cold of the wastelands, often tracking their quarry for days with little or no rest.

Advancement: Elves level as fighters, and use the same XP progression and saving throws as the fighting-man. If a human XP bonus is used (I give humans an extra 5% in addition to the normal 5-10% based on prime requisite) then no XP bonus cap is needed. Otherwise, the elf is capped at a maximum 5% prime requisite bonus. Referees may choose to place a level cap on elves, but from a balance standpoint, it shouldn't be necessary.

Elven Quickness: Elves do not wear armor, as it is too cumbersome and impractical. However, they are extremely quick and nimble, even for their size. As a result, elves are treated as wearing armor based on the table below, depending on their dexterity. If they should equip armor or shields of any sort, they lose this bonus and simply use the AC based on their equipment.

  Score            AC
   9-12            as Shield
  13-15            as Leather + Shield
  16-17            as Chain + Shield
    18             as Plate + Shield

Elven Endurance: Elves can run or hold their breath twice as long without experiencing any negative effects.

Wasteland Weaponry: Elves get a +1 to hit with spears and longbows.

That's it! Not a whole lot to it, just a bit of flavor, mostly. Even if you don't want to make this a PC option, they could make for a good NPC encounter to add to your hex tables or whatever.

Most of you will notice these ideas are not completely original, and I am not ashamed of that. The 2E Elves of Athas supplement offers one of my favorite non-traditional take on elves. If you haven't checked it out, it is worth a look, but I can't recommend buying it unless you are actually planning on running a Dark Sun game under 2E rules and using all the crazy options offered. Otherwise, you will find only a small percentage of it's 96 pages to be of any use.

Please feel free to post additional ideas and criticisms for this elf. I'd love to hear other ideas and feedback.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Double-Digit Followers!

Thanks to Arkhein from Rather Gamey for being the 10th person to click on the little "follow" button over there on the right. And many thanks to the 9 people who came before him as well! I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Anyways, back to work. If you like what you see here, become a follower and tell your friends.


Lessons in Roleplaying

Read this over at Beedo's kid's site, and almost burst into tears laughing:

So after that we went back to check on the door that was spiked shut and extremely bad news for us we heard hundreds of zombie fists banging on the door so we learned a lesson don't ever play a Raggy's adventure again cause not only are we trapped in a dungeon by zombies but we have already accidentally unleashed ten thousand zombies three thousand ghouls and an ancient vampire all in one adventure and we are only level 3.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hand-Drawn Maps and Typewriter Notes!

I just caught this post on iheartchaos via this post from a few days ago over at the K&K forums. If you want to get straight to the point, it all leads to this page here. Lots of neat stuff in there!

D&D Pronunciations

I was reading Limpey's post over at Aldeboran about some of the strange monsters from D&D. It led off with the catoblepas, a monster I've never used, due at least in part to the fact that I had no idea how to pronounce it. That reminded me of a page I came across recently (probably posted on someone else's blog, but I can't remember who at the moment) that had a list of pronunciations for D&D stuff. The link is here, but I'll repost just the pronunciations, since that's all I care about at the moment.

Aarakocra: a-rah-KO-krah
Arquebus: AR-keh-bus
Baatezu: bay-AH-teh-zu or BAH-teh-zu
Bardiche: bar-DEESH
Bulette: boo-LAY
Catoblepus: kuht-OH-bleh-puhs, also kah-TA-ble-pus
Chatkcha: CHAT-k-cha (thri-kreen throwing weapon)
Chimera: ky-MAEE-ruh, or ky-MAIR-ruh (rhymes with "care of")
Chitin: KITE-in
Cuirass: KWEE-rass
Drow: DRAU (as in drowsy; rhymes with now and how)
Dweomer: DWEH-mer (rhymes with "hem her"), or DWIH-mer; sometimes DWEE-mer
Falchion: FAL-chun
Geas: GEE-ass, or GYASS (both with a hard "g")
Gygax: GY-gaks
Halberd: HAL-berd, (not HAL-bread)
Herb: ERB
Ioun: EYE-oon
Iuz: YOOZ or EE-uz
Ixitxachitl: iks-it-ZATCH-i-til or ik-zit-zah-chih-tull
Lich: LITCH (as in ditch), *not* LIKE or LICK
Lycanthrope: LY-kun-throhp, LY-kan-throhp (like lichen rope/my tan rope)
Lycanthropy: ly-KAN-thruh-pee
Mage: MAGE (as in age), *not* MADGE (as in badger)
Melee: MAY-lay
Otyugh: AHT-yuhg
Sahuagin: sah-HWAH-gin
Scythe: syth (rhymes with tithe)
Svirfneblin: svirf-NEB-lin
Tanar'ri: tah-NAHR-ree
Tarrasque: tah-RASK
THAC0: either THAK-oh, or THAKE-oh
Vargouille: var-GWEEL
Vrock: vrahk
Wyvern: WIH-vern (as in did learn), or WHY-vern
Zaknafein: zack-NAY-fee-in

Here are all the ones I pronounce incorrectly:

Baatezu: buh-TEE-zoo
Bulette: boo-LETT
Catoblepus:  cat-o-BLEE-pus
Dweomer: dwee-O-mer
Geas: geez (with hard G, like geezer)
Ioun: eye-OON
Otyugh: OH-tee-oog
Sahuagin: sa-WOG-in
Scythe: I always pronounce it with a K sound, even though I know better.
Vargouille: var-GOO-ee

Did you find anything in here you didn't know about before? Are there any of these pronunciations you would contest? Do you have any that you pronounce differently, and that's just how it is, and you aren't likely to change?

These are My Players

So when my group got together to play OD&D for our first time, the players were making their characters as I was explaining some of the key things that were different between OD&D and what they were more accustomed to (d20-based games). When I got to the part about alignment, and explained that there were just three alignments, Lawful, Chaotic, and Neutral, they all simultaneously grabbed their pencils and started erasing.

I looked at their sheets, and to the last, they had all erased G's and N's so that everyone's sheet now had a "C" with an eraser mark next to it.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, these are my players...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Outland: My First Stab at OD&D

This is something I have had on the back burner of my mind for a long time. Last weekend, when one of the players in my Council of Thieves campaign cancelled, I seized the opportunity to set it into motion. I got my wife, my sister, my brother-in-law, and my little cousin together to play OD&D. I'll talk more about how the session went in a later post, but for now I'd just like to share a bit about the setting.

A while back, Il Male of The Yaqqothl Grimoire posted an awesome map for his Yaqqothl setting. This, in turn, inspired me to work on a map of my own, heavily based on his work:

Outland Map - Revision 1
This map is just a rough draft - a place for me to sprinkle in my ideas, but already I probably have more than we could ever get through. The goal is to follow James M.'s method, initially painting with broad strokes, seeing where play takes the party, and flesh things out as we go. The party started out entering the area, tentatively referred to as Outland (I'm open to more creative names if you'd like to offer any), through the mountain pass in the southeast. Their destination was the keep, and that is where adventuring began.

The first thing I dropped on the party to let them know that this place wasn't home was the fact that there was a second, blood-red "sun" low in the western sky, shrouded in black clouds. This second sun doesn't rise and set like the regular sun - it just hangs there in the west, unmoving. At night it isn't bright enough to illuminate anything any more than the moon would, but it gives everything a creepy red tone.

That's it. That's all the party knows and that's all I know. They can ask NPCs about it if they are curious, and they will likely get many different theories about what it is. The players will have to decide for themselves what it is, or perhaps discover more about it through play.

Here are some of the points of interest I have planned for the region:
  • At bottom right is the keep where the adventures begin, and the hex immediately to the south of it is where the Caves of Chaos lie. (Or the caves might be in the same hex as the keep. I haven't worked out a scale yet.)
  • The gray forested area is where I will put my Tales of the Old Margreve supplement to use. It's an awesome haunted forest with an Eastern European twisted-fairy-folktale feel, complete with werewolves, wicked fey, and a witch or two.
  • I'll probably place Death Frost Doom in the hills to the southeast of the forest.
  • The pyramid-looking thing in the swamp of the southwest region will be a Temple of the Frog inspired thing. I have a number of bullywug minis that I need to put to use. It will be a fun challenge to make them the proper demon-worshiping baddies that they should be, and not just some form of joke monster.
  • The village by the lake will be inspired by Pembrooktonshire.
  • The crazy stuff in the northeast will be built upon Golarion's Worldwound.
  • The island over in the west will likely have some Freeport elements, but perhaps not. I kind of want things to get weirder and weirder the further west the party travels. Perhaps I'll just need to read a bunch of Clark Ashton Smith before I do anything with it.
  • Not sure where yet, but there will have to be snake-men. Not "Yuan-Ti", just good old-fashioned snake-men. There are some jungle areas, so I should be good there.
  • And last but not least, the iced-over island in the northwest could be a number of things. I am optimistic about Beedo's Black City. It looks to have high potential for awesome, and I will be watching his progress closely. Another possibility is to use the Ghostwalk supplement I picked up during paizo's Thanksgiving black friday sale for a song. I haven't really looked at it much yet, though, so I'm not sure if it's even any good.
I found this awesome painting on ArtOrder, which really got my brain stirring about this lost city, whatever it ends up being...

So there's the bird's-eye view of the place. A land of wonder and weirdness and potential death at every turn. My next post will be about what our first session was like, and I will be soliciting advice for running an old-school style game as well. There were a few issues that popped up, so I will need some help for sure!

Fisher-Price My First Painted Miniature

For Christmas this year, my wife got me (I bought with her blessing) a starter set of Reaper Master Series paints, which includes the first 54 colors in the set, and is enough to do most things, as long as you aren't afraid to do a bit of mixing here and there. Then of course I also had to buy brushes, and I had to get the best kind, and numerous other supplies. When it was all said and done, I spent a few hundred dollars on supplies for painting minis.

I am OCD about most things I undertake, so I spent hours reading online about how to paint minis at sites such as Hot Lead before I started trying to paint anything. I also got my sister the book How to Paint Citadel Miniatures, and had a gander before I wrapped it up for her hehe.

Haha, I just typed the title into google to find a nice link to where one might be able to purchase the book, and the first result was a scribd link to the full pdf, so there ya have it!

At any rate, here are the results of my first outing as a mini painter:

Nualia - Front View

Nualia - Rear View
Sorry for the grainy pics. I either need to get a new camera or need to take some photgraphy lessons - not sure which. Perfect? Hell no, but I was happy with the results considering it was my freshman effort. I still need to add another layer of flock to try to cover up the metal between her feet, and the color of the flock looks way crappier than I anticipated, so I'll probably apply some paint to that as well.

I only tried painting a mini once before in my life, when I was around 14 or so. I used a crappy watercolor brush, and lord knows what kind of paint. Needless to say, it was an absolute mess. It was so bad that I couldn't even wrap my head around how painting these things was possible. Turns out that being older, more patient, and having a bit of a bigger budget with which to buy the proper equipment goes a long way towards producing a better result. The flipside of that is that finding the time to set aside to do some painting with a 2-year-old running around the house can be rather difficult. Hopefully I can get up to a better production rate than one mini per two months. Otherwise, this queue of a dozen unpainted minis is going to last a long time!

The next thing I want to learn how to do is how to make those awesome dungeon tile-looking bases. If anyone has any good tips or links on the topic, I'd love to hear about them. Thanks in advance!

Some DIY OSR Books

Just the other day I discovered the wonders of spiral binding. I just printed these out at home on my laser printer (a worthwhile investment for any gaming material junky like myself), printed out the covers on cardstock (two of them in color), and brought them in to the print shop. They charged me $4.37 for each book, which included the transparent protective cover, the plastic spiral binding, and the sturdy plastic-ish backing.

The books pictured are, from left to right

  • Labyrinth Lord Revised Edition (I finally broke down and paid the 6 bucks for the PDF with art)
  • Swords & Wizardry Core Rules (text is from the current 3rd printing, but I used the cover from the second printing, since the image from the third printing is cut up into a bunch of pieces)
  • Original Moldvay/Cook/Marsh Basic and Expert rulebooks combined into a single volume, complete with custom cover utilizing more of the artwork of Kevin Mayle (can you tell I love his work?)

These books are awesome because they open and and lie flat on the gaming table. You don't have to worry about them getting bastardized by one of your friend's cheeto hands or spilled drink, and they fold all the way back around on themselves, so they are less cumbersome to read.

Note: If all you have is an inkjet printer, don't bother. Just get the whole thing printed up at the printer. It'll be cheaper that way.

Conan the Adventurer Animated Series

When I was in 5th or 6th grade, there was an awesome cartoon that was airing at 6:00AM on the weekdays called Conan the Adventurer. I got my ass up every day by 5:45 to watch it, and that in and of itself is a testament to how much I liked it, because I have always held sleep in very high regard.

I've recently been watching the series again with my 2-year-old daughter, and we've been having a blast. It holds up really well in my opinion. Every time an episode is reaching it's conclusion, she knows it before the credits and closing song even come up. Without fail she exclaims, "WATCH TOMAN AGAIN!" (She still has trouble making a K sound)

This was one of the few cartoons from my youth that I can still watch and fully enjoy today. I'm ashamed to admit I've never read any R.E.H. Conan stories, so I can't comment on how the two compare, but I plan to remedy that soon. The series is a true serial, with continuity between episodes, which was a lost art for a while, but has come back to us along with the advent of the DVR. The show uses artfully simple fantasy tropes, and the world as presented is thankfully very different from the Tolkienesque stuff that I am so burnt out on. Pretty much every episode provides me with a handful of ideas I would like to use in future adventures. Some examples of these nuggets are "serpent men that can only be defeated with weapons made of a rare alien metal that came from a meteor that fell from space" or "giant telepathic gorilla-man who's spaceship crashed and people worship him as a god, but he is really enslaved by an evil sorcerer that stole his magic rod after the crash."

This is the kind of content that I love. Simple ideas that can be built upon to make for some cool games. If you've never seen this cartoon, or haven't seen it in 19 years like myself, I highly recommend checking it out.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mystical Creatures by Dr. Killbot

I had to share this video, because it is a work of art. This is my friend Steve's band Dr. Killbot. It was released quite a while ago, but I'm sure there are still many out there who are yet unaware of its awesomeness.

Warning: NSFW, there is a bit of foul language...

NPC Gallery: Dennix the Duplicitous

This is a character I made for my friend Steve's play-by-post Basic Fantasy RPG game. In that game, his stats are slightly different, and he is actually a cleric (long story), but I figured he had some potential as an NPC. Thus, I present you with Dennix the Duplicitous...

B/X Stats
AL N, AC 7[12], HD1 (4 hp), #AT 1, D 1-6 (club) or 1-4 (dagger),
MV (30'), Save T1, ML 4
Str 7, Int 10, Wis 14, Dex 9, Con 12, Cha 10
Carries a pouch with 8 gp, 23 sp, and 12 cp
Wears a gold chain under his shirt worth 40 gp

Dennix is a fat, slow, weak and lazy man, always looking to make some quick and easy coin. He is a moneychanger, working down by the docks. However, his business is about to fold because he spends all his nights gambling away any profits he makes in the seedy dockside gambling dens.

He also frequently tries to rip off foreigners visiting the city, and word of his misdeeds has spread far and wide. He is no stranger to black eyes. The locals refer to him as Dennix the Degenerate, Dennix the Deceitful, or Dennix the Duplicitous (and sometimes even just Dennix the Fat). He has been called countless other things as well. 

He seems to have terrible luck, as is the case with most compulsive gamblers, and one night, even when he stood to win a large pot in the gambling halls from a gypsy, he still lost. The man did not have the cash to pay what he owed, and instead gave Dennix what he called a "Blink Dog's Tail". He told him it was magical and would allow Dennix to teleport short distances by rubbing it in a moment of need. Dennix has yet to get the thing to work, and only weeks later is coming to accept the fact that he was duped. Dennix is extremely worried about his future, and if he doesn't catch a break soon, he is going to be out on the streets, begging for his meals. For a man of his girth, that's a lot of begging...

Custom LBB Supplement Covers

If you like the banner at the top of my blog here, it was done by Kevin Mayle (used without permission). You can find his gallery here and his blog here.

Using his work, I also crafted some custom covers for the first three OD&D supplements. I've become completely enamored with making my own digest-sized booklets lately, and these came about as a result.


Greyhawk Cover
Blackmoor Cover
Eldritch Wizardry Cover

P.S. - If any of you know of a better free file hosting solution than mediafire, please let me know. Thanks!


Greetings reader. This blog is something I've been contemplating for a long time, and I've finally decided to take action and get it up and running. Figuring it somewhat like having your first child, if you wait until you're "ready", it will just never happen. The most difficult part was coming up with a name. There are so many great blogs out there with so many clever names, every time I thought I had come up with something clever, someone else either already had it, or had something close enough that I shied away. In the end, it was a good exercise, because I discovered a number of blogs I was unaware of. In the end, I came to "People them with monsters", a snippet from one of my favorite sentences from any RPG book ever.

Gary Gygax wrote in Men & Magic:
First, the referee must draw out a minimum of half a dozen maps of the levels of his "underworld", people them with monsters of various horrid aspect, distribute treasures accordingly, and note the location of the latter two on keys, each corresponding to the appropriate level.
That is one hell of a sentence!

This blog will be about Dungeons & Dragons (mostly in it's earlier forms), and it's modern heir apparent, the Pathfinder RPG. I anticipate it will contain a little of everything, including philosophical discussion about RPGs, related media, some product reviews, game session reports (if I ever get the gumption to type those up), and hopefully some original material you can drop into your own games.

Just so you know a bit about my RPG background and where my roots lie, here is the summary:

My first memories of anything RPG-related was when I was very young, perhaps 6 or 7. I found a funny-looking die in my grandma's "junk drawer" that was numbered 1 to 20. I later found out it belonged to my older cousins. When I asked them what it was for, they gently explained it was for a big kids' game called "Dungeons & Dragons". They showed me the books, and I remember being very intrigued and confused by it all. I peppered them with questions, but I don't remember a whole lot else. I don't recall which books they had either, but I'm pretty sure it was Holmes and/or AD&D.

Fast-forward several years to find my good friend from the neighborhood  - Jeff - teaching me how to play Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. This was in 1994 or thereabouts. At the same time, he let me borrow a D&D novel (The Tainted Sword). I hated reading up until that point, but once I cracked that novel, I couldn't stop, and I devoured the whole thing in a day or two. To this day it's the only novel I've ever read that mentions blink dogs, a creature that holds a special place in my heart. I got the next two books from the library and read those as well.

Soon after, I bought a 2nd Edition Player's Handbook. It was one of the black reprints from the mid-90's. I read that thing over and over. Jeff moved away, so I never had anyone to play with, but I read the rulebook and a lot of Forgotten Realms novels from the library. I also spent a great deal of time at the hobby shop looking at all the D&D stuff, but never really buying anything. I was 14 or 15 at the time, so my wallet was a bit thin.

Then I met two guys in my sophomore gym class (Ryan and Steve) that happened to also be into D&D, video games, and all sorts of other stuff. We quickly became friends and remain so to this day. We played a bit of D&D, but never with the same characters for more than one session. And they seemed to prefer to play Necromunda, which I never tried myself and just wasn't interested in for some unknown reason. I guess I just thought nothing could hold a candle to D&D...

Time passes, and my focus shifts to girls and beers and the myriad other forms of tomfoolery that one takes interest in high school and the few years immediately following. However, when 3rd edition came out, it did catch my attention, and I bought the core books. We may have tried to play once, but if we did, I don't really remember it. Ryan says we did though, so I'll take his word for it.

Skip forward yet again to 2008, and I caught wind of 4th edition. I thought it would be cool to try it out, so I bought the core books and a Chessex pound-o-dice from amazon and convinced my longtime friend and now brother-in-law Greg to run a game for some of us. We played maybe twice, but it never really got much traction, and the books sat on my shelf.

In spring of 2010, I happened upon something in my internet browsing that had to do with D&D. I have no idea what it was, but it was the catalyst. I decided we needed to get together and game and do it regularly. It became important to me to get it off the ground and maintain it. I decided I couldn't leave it up to anyone else, so I figured I'd have to learn to DM. This is also how I got into blogs. There are a ton of D&D blogs out there, and I devoured their content. I got everyone together, and we set out to play The Keep on the Shadowfell under the 4th Edition rules, as my first time DMing any game ever.

A lot of ex-4th edition players' stories start out with "we played Keep on the Shadowfell" it turns out. It would be completely unfair to say that fun wasn't had, but there were a number of things that came up that showed us that D&D 4E wasn't for us.

First of all, we had 8 players. The game is optimized for 5, and they recommend not to go outside the 4-6 range. Any time we got into combat (which was every time the party went into the next room) a single round could take 45+ minutes. We resorted to using one of those little hourglass timers from a board game in an attempt to keep things moving, but even that didn't seem to help. On top of that, I had to spend hours re-designing encounters to be more challenging because the party of 8 just stomped on everything. And I couldn't just add monsters because it would cause combat encounters to take even longer. In the end, after spending hours using the monster builder app, they still just stomped on everything, albeit perhaps the stomping was a bit softer.

Some of the players were brand new, and thus had nothing to compare the game to, so they pretty much just accepted most things as being the way of things. But those of us that played past editions didn't like a lot of things about it. The short of it is, it wasn't the game for us, but I'm glad we found that out through play, rather than conjecture.

We finished the module after 5 sessions of 10-13 hours each and the characters at level 5. At the end, I was amazed to find out that it was the farthest anyone in the group had ever leveled a single character! I knew I was on to something, and a lot of fun was being had, despite the challenges of the system we were using.

It was around this time that I "found" a pdf of the Pathfinder RPG rules, and we decided to give that a shot. I read over the rules, and my sister and her husband helped me by testing it out. We liked it, so we decided to make the change. We split the group of 8 into two groups of 4, and I am running each group through a separate adventure path (Rise of the Runelords and Council of Thieves). Each group meets roughly monthly, with sessions generally lasting the same 10-13 hours we were doing before. Both groups seem happy with their respective campaigns. Prep is still more work than I'd like it to be, but it's far better than the hoops I had to jump through with 4E. It should also be noted that I now hold 5 subscriptions with Paizo, so although my initial exposure to the game may have been less than legit, they have landed a loyal customer.

Last weekend I ran a group through a session of OD&D, using the little brown books and a few house rules. I began them with the Keep on the Borderlands, so I could see what all the rage is about. We only played for 3 hours, so the group didn't get a great deal done, but I had an awesome time. I hope the players did as well, because I would love to have this be the beginning of a new campaign. I really enjoyed the use of random tables, being able to run monsters without having to study them beforehand, and the chance to flex my improvisational muscles without fear of breaking some carefully-balanced game. I'm still a fledgling DM, and I still have a lot to learn, but if this past year was any indication, it's going to be a lot of fun!

If you've made it this far, I'm flattered. I thought it important for any potential readers to have the opportunity to take my gaming history into consideration. There are a lot of people out there with blogs that have been gaming 30+ years, played with chits, have had dinner with Gary Gygax, and many other experiences various and sundry (see what I did there?) that give them their street cred. I am not one of them. My gaming experience is comparatively limited. I would not claim to be any sort of authoritative voice on the subject of RPGs. I just wish to share my experiences and have discussions with other like-minded individuals.

That being said, you have my solemn vow that future posts will be much more interesting. Game on!